So what ideas came of the 2020 Summit? I might comment on my own Productivity stream a little later but, contrary to what some might have thought, I think that there were some potentially interesting ideas to emerge elsewhere. There were, of course, some that seemed a bit strange. Let me run through the highlights here.
The economy stream seemed to take the view that taxes and regulations were in need of an over-haul. This is a safe set of ideas but hardly surprising for any new government. Interestingly, a ‘pre-summit’ idea that we adopt a “government-guaranteed program to create securities from prime mortgages (similar to that in Canada), to ensure a relatively low-cost and stable source of financing for housing” made it to the Initial Report. I guess I can’t complain about that.
The environment stream was all about policies that the previous government should have imposed but didn’t. Their motto seemed to be “just do it.”
For the health stream, two great ideas worth exploring. The ‘Healthbook’ concept whereby people are encouraged and enabled to keep proper health records is very important and a big picture drive to build a “bionic eye.” Me thinks that one will cost a tad more than $6 million though.
Of course, the best idea in terms of low funding by government was the call for microfinance. Answering the obvious question as to why the market couldn’t provide this, the nab put their money where their mouth is and provided it! What a shame that the other very rich folk at the Summit didn’t do more of the same.
Some ideas where supposed to be cost neutral but were not: for instance, a 1% creative dividend from all government departments for expenditure on arts. And some haven’t quite got there: for instance, I don’t see how voting for a republic and then voting on a model is any more likely to succeed than voting on the model and the republic at the same time.
What is interesting is what was common across streams:
- Calls for federal approaches to everything from innovation, curriculum, child-care hubs, indigenous knowledge, climate change, taxation, regulation, health care, the arts and of course governance. This suggests to me that federalism is very very very high on the Government’s agenda.
- Calls for literacy programs across the board including financial, science, maths, creative, health and second languages.
- Calls for better information on schools, policy evaluation, social, health data, and environmental harm.
- Calls for regional cooperation on health, governance, the environment, security and the idea of a 2020 Summit that was region-wide — something that sounds to me like a great idea that should happen sooner rather than later.
It is these commonalities that point to what is really on the Government’s agenda for long-term policy reform. It is a shame we debated the trees, however, and didn’t get a broader opportunity to discuss the make-up of the forest. But there is time for that right now.